Posted on May 8, 2009 by alanajoli
Coming into the middle of a story is always tough, even in comics. The intro at the beginning of most ongoing series catches readers up – but only if they already have a basic idea of the mythology. The delightful thing about Witchblade #125 is that, even with only half of an idea about what’s going on in the series (I’ve read an earlier volume and caught a Free Comic Book Day promo last year), the art work was so hyper-realistic and intriguing that I was drawn into the characters regardless of the plot.
Since I tend to read novels and comics predominantly for story and character, the art pulling me in so dramatically is a big deal for me. I haven’t seen this style before, and Stjepan Sejic (if he is also the colorist) is doing tremendous work with lighting, making some of his images look almost Final Fantasy realistic.
Witchblade #125 begins a new story arc: War of the Witchblades. When we enter the story, Sara (who has had the Witchblade – a magical weapon/armor/source that makes its host responsible for balancing the forces of Darkness and the Angelus – for some time) is visiting her sister Julie in prison, where she’s been for drug related charges. The relationship between Sara and Julie comes alive on the page; it’s obvious from both the subtleties in the dialog and the expressions on the faces of the sisters how
deep their relationship is (though it has apparently been through plenty of ups and downs). There are also hints that Sara’s baby daughter, Hope, understands far more than she should at her age – she cries when Sara talks about her estrangement from (and condemning judgment of) the other half of the Witchblade, Dani. The relationship between Sara and Julie is more convincing than the later relationship shown between Sara and her police partner and boyfriend (not Hope’s father), Gleason. This could be due to the complications inherent in their relationship – based on a short comic that ends this issue, focusing on Gleason, it’s clear he’s more invested in Sara than she is in him, and that he’s unsure of how to be the partner (in either sense) to the woman who bears the Witchblade.
Dani is dealing with the new implications of her relationship with Finch, a woman who is in some way at the heart of the estrangement between Sara and Dani. Finch is interested in making their friendship something more, and the chemistry between the two women shows on the page, but whether that chemistry is just intensity of emotion or whether it’s a one-sided interest in being more than friends is hard to tell. Dani puts Finch off as “just friends” – but another force has taken an interest in Finch. This is where knowing the mythology would be helpful: the synopsis explains that the Angelus Force is looking for a Host (and is also trying to kill Sara – really, the forces of “good” are trying to kill the Witchblade?). The being that appears to have an interest in Fitch could well be the energy source for the Angelus. Or, it could be some other supernatural I just haven’t encountered in the Witchblade universe.
Overall, this is a strong beginning for a storyline. Ron Marz’s writing is as strong I’ve come to expect from him (I was a fan of his work on the Crossgen universe), and his dialogue reads incredibly naturally. This isn’t a bad place to pick up your first Witchblade (especially considering Sejic’s art – wow!), but it might be worth buying or reading an earlier graphic novel to get a better feel for the world.
Review by Alana Abbott